A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that watching soccer videos can help children and adolescents understand the emotions involved in soccer, and can be particularly helpful for those who have autism spectrum disorder.
The researchers surveyed 1,200 participants from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Education and Services Network (ADESN) in the United States and Canada, ages 5 to 17, to learn about their experiences watching soccer video games.
The participants also completed a battery of questionnaires, including questions on how often they had seen soccer videos and how long they watched.
The study, which was led by a team at University of Pennsylvania’s Schulich School of Medicine, looked at how the videos impacted students’ ability to learn.
“When watching a video, it’s hard to focus on what you’re watching,” study co-author Sarah Shulman, PhD, told The Huffington Post.
“There’s so much going on.”
When asked how often people in their social group had watched videos, participants were more likely to say they had watched them more than three times a week.
The study also found that people who watched soccer videos more often were more apt to identify as having autism spectrum disorders, with those who watched more than once a week reporting the highest likelihood of having autism.
Shulman added that it is important to understand the impact of video games on autistic people.
“In order to reduce the impact that autism may have on the autism community, we need to understand how autism is impacted by video games and how video games can be improved,” she said.
The research team said that although the findings are encouraging, they don’t mean that autism is completely avoidable.
“The results of this study are very preliminary and do not prove that the impact on autism is entirely preventable,” Shulmann said.
“It’s important to remember that video games are just one piece of a larger puzzle.
There are other aspects of life that can cause the same emotional reaction that the video games do, and those things should be explored further.”
Shulmann told The Daily Beast that she was concerned that the study only looked at the impact video games had on individuals with autism.
She noted that autism affects all people, including those who play video games, and that autistic individuals have a greater need for social skills, so they are less likely to engage in social interactions.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all, and if you have autism, you have to learn how to engage with others in the social environment,” Shilmann said, adding that this research does not take into account that people with autism have more emotional problems, as well.
“It’s really important to be able to take your time and listen to the person in the video,” Shuli said.
She added that the fact that the researchers only looked specifically at the effects of video gaming was important because it’s “a very difficult skill for most people to develop.”